April 17: Selling off social housing has been a disaster in the Dales

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From: Gerald Hodgson, Spennithorne, Leyburn.

In the 1950s, the local authorities in Wensleydale built small developments of good houses on the outskirts of every village with the intention that these should be available as affordable housing in perpetuity.

Following the Right to Buy legislation of the Thatcher government, they were offered to the tenants at sacrificial prices, making a huge gift from the public purse to fortunate individuals.

Typically, these houses were sold for under £10,000 and are now worth £200,000.

Practically every council house in the dale was sold as the tenants rightly recognised the huge bonus they were being offered.

The result is that this pool of affordable housing has gone and the situation is hugely exacerbated now by the inflation in house prices, driven by wealth from outside the area, and the absence of land for development, meaning that purchase in the open market is way beyond the means of most young people from local families.

This has been socially disastrous, resulting in an ageing population, erosion of local services and falling numbers in local schools.

Now we learn that a Conservative government would seek to extend this bonanza from the public purse to yet more fortunate individuals who just happen to be Housing Association tenants (The Yorkshire Post, April 15).

This is clearly attractive to the individuals concerned, and I would not blame them for taking advantage of it, but it will result in yet further reduction of affordable housing stock which cannot be replaced by reinvesting the sale proceeds of houses sold at a 70 per cent discount, quite apart from the absence of sites to build them on.

The problem is apparently to be made even worse by requiring local authorities to sell off their houses when they become vacant.

I have focussed on the problems encountered in Wensleydale, but the same considerations apply to a greater or lesser degree to most areas throughout the country.

I believe this Conservative manifesto pledge is a deeply damaging proposal which must be resisted.